Ford Australia today confirmed the exact closing date of its Victorian assembly line and engine plant — October 7, 2016.
This timing confirms Ford will go the distance and honour the commitment it made in May 2013, when it announced its intention to close its local car-making operations in the first place.
The confirmation gives reassurance to the roughly 850 workers left at the Campbellfield assembly line that makes the Falcon sedan/ute and Territory SUV, and the Geelong factory that makes the I6 engine.
Before this time, the iconic Ford Falcon will be given a final hurrah. Beyond this, the badge (one of Ford’s oldest globally) will be retired.
Ford has been slowly giving workers redundancy packages since the initial announcement of its planned closures.
As such, it also puts to bed persistent rumours that the company would shut its factories and convert to full-importer status earlier than planned, in the wake of slowing demand for its Australian-made product.
The closure on October 7, 2016 will precede the scheduled closure of Holden and Toyota’s Australian manufacturing facilities in 2017, at which time there will be no large-scale car-making operations left here.
At the end of October 2016, Ford Australia’s manufacturing facilities will be handed over to Ford’s global decommissioning team, which will prepare the assets for sale over a potential period of years.
Ford is Australia’s oldest car-maker, having started making vehicles locally in 1925 and assembly of the Falcon at the current Melbourne northern suburbs site in 1960.
As we know, Ford Australia has recorded a $190.7 million loss for 2014 on the back of sliding sales and continued costs associated with the impending closure of its production facilities. The negative financial result was the fourth consecutive loss, leaving the company approximately $890 million in the red since 2010.
Sales at present are at a low point too. This year they total 45,911 units, down 17.1 per cent over the same period in 2014. This is about half of where the company sat in 2004.
Beyond October 2016, Ford Australia becomes a full importer of vehicles — from Thailand, Europe and the US — and will base this operation from its new office in inner-Melbourne, away from the plant.
As well as its sales and marketing teams, Ford Australia will also retain a significant research, design and development arm based in Victoria with about 1200 staff, serving as the home base for Ford Asia Pacific R&D, well beyond 2016.